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Discussion Starter #1
My husband and I are trying to get rid of some $40K in consumer debt. We've shaved back our expenses and we have an aggressive plan to pay it off by the end of 2008. The problem is that we've had a few setbacks (major dog surgery, flooded basement x 3) and our target debt-free date seems to be inching farther and farther away from us. :(

We want to start having kids soon, but we're not willing to start trying until the debt is paid or mostly paid. Since I'm not getting any younger, I've brought up a couple of ideas to my husband, but he considers them to be "drastic". They are: selling our house and downgrading to a smaller house or townhouse, selling our car and going car-free for a while, selling our house and renting my Mom's condo for a year (she currently rents it and the lease is coming due in the summer), or taking in a boarder.

I don't mind "suffering" in the short-term so that we can rid ourselves of this burden and move on with life. He thinks we should stay the course.

I'd be curious to know if any of you have done something that you consider to be "drastic" in order to rein in your debt.
 

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Since you are wanting to have kids in the future, I would consider selling the house to be very drastic, unless it is one you don't really want. If you sell now then try to buy something else in a couple of years, it would probably cost you more, causing you to (maybe) regret selling or worse, having to rent indefinitely.

Not sure if this is what you are doing, but if your aggressive plan for debt reduction doesn't allow for unexpected expenses, you probably will see that payoff date continue to creep away into the future. If you were to set aside an emergency fund first, then look at paying extra on the debt, what would be the payoff date? Seeing a realistic date might make it easier for you and DH to come up with more aggressive measures to pay off the debt. Right now it sounds like he thinks staying the course will be soon enough and you're worried you'll never get there.
 

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Drastic measures...

Hmmm. yes selling the house is drastic. However if you are planning for a family it might be backwards, if you downsize, will you be able to upgrade later on potentially one income?

How about ways to increase income? Can you take a second job? Or find a better paying one?

Decrease interest? Many credit cards are amenable to lowering rates. This can save a ton.

Snowball! Can't say enough good about it. Just becuase you paid off debt #1 shouldn't mean you have that payment to spend, put it on debt #2! By your statement, I think you understand.

This might sound harsh, but... pets are costly, especially with medical issues. Is your dog going to make a family friendly pet? If not, you may wnat to consider adopting it out. Many families find out that a dog prior to children isn't a good thing, as they can get aggressive.

We are doing the same thing as you. I found a way to increase income. And am paying as much toward everything every pay period as possible. I am planning for the "unexpected" or "occasional" so I don't need to use credit. So far so good. But there will be setbacks. It happens. Don't get down on yourself about it, and just keep moving forward, don't let it stop you! You're doing great!
 

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For us drastic would be cutting out the internet and the cell phones. Selling the house would be the absolute last thing I would try.

I guess if I were you, you don't have kids, this is a prime time to earn more money. Get a part time job to pay the debt of faster. Or sell stuff, or do what I was talking about, cut the interenet or cell phones, etc. Reducing your monthly payments, if you can reduce them, could go a long way in payiing down debt faster. good luck!

jennifer
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks all.

We started an emergency fund after the first set-back. It's been eaten up by the other set-backs (though we didn't have time to establish a huge one).

It's strange - sometimes I feel like we're in control and on the right track and other times I feel derailed. That's when I start to panic and start thinking about doing things like selling our house! :ponder:
 

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Okay... I think the most drastic thing is to keep holding off on having a baby. I can understand the reasoning of wanting to pay off all your debt before you try to have a baby... but... what if you (like me) have to go through infertility or (like me) end up adopting? Those are expenses people don't think of.

Want drastic? Want bare bones? I had less than a year from the time I called a stop to the fertility procedures and adopting DD. In that time, we managed to save $50,000, pay off over $10,000 joint credit card debt and eliminated car payments by trading down my car.

The EX (dd's dad) worked. His income is what we would be living on after the baby. We lived on it BEFORE the baby too. If we couldn't afford it JUST on what he made... we just DIDN'T

I worked 3 jobs. 1 full-time salary job, I worked private nursing 2 nights a week and worked at a convenience store a few nights a week.

We closed the credit cards. Kept ONLY a gas card. We paid off the balance with the salary job and the part time jobs went in to an acct. In the event of an emergency (car repairs etc, we did dip in to the savings acct. but ONLY if we NEEDED to)

We didn't have cell-phones, we didn't eat out, we used the pc's at work or the library, the clothes we had is all the clothes we need. I did need new shoes for the store because I couldn't work in the office shoes and I didn't want to wear the nursing shoes.

As far as utilities, we were lucky and the heating, water and cooking was included in the condo fees, technically, we still paid for them on top of electric, but it helped having it lumped sum and steady every month.

Sit down with DH and figure out where you CAN cut back. If you have 2 non-family cars, can someone trade for a family car (my ex had a sports car, couldnt fit a carseat in it) it will lower or eliminate car payments too.

Go over your bills, write down exactly what you cant avoid paying (mortgage, utilities, insurances, food, gas, etc) and write down what you can avoid like going out to eat, designer clothes, expensive coffee shops.

Take your lunches to work (unless you work at a restaurant, they poo-poo that). If you drink coffee on the way to work, buy a good non-spill travel mug.

The most drastic thing you can do is keep postponing things. If I could do it, you can too! My DD is living proof that anything is possible!

(Granted, now I am divorced and I don't have the income I once did, the DF makes 1/3 of what I use to earn and the three of us live a very happy life. We may not have Polo jeans or Ralph Lauren shirts.... but they rip and stain as easily as the knock offs :lol:)
 
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Another thing I wanted to chime in on the waiting to have children, because DH and I faced the same question - we started trying when we had an end in sight and it was less than nine months (we started TTC in Dec. and were out of consumer debt in May). And is would you be willing to live another year and a half with debt if you had another year and a half of your life with a family? Don't get me wrong, I believe in planning and not expanding your family if you can't afford it, but if you are living below your means and making headway, then I would go ahead with your family plans. Personally, our biggest challenge when we were ready was that I was the only one working - so we waited until DH found a job and had been there a few months.

I agree that selling the house is a drastic measure. I also would really give it a second thought because of the reason other posters have mentioned - you're going to make your family bigger, so you don't want to downsize to something too small only to have to get a bigger place soon after. Figure after brokers fees and whatnot, how much are you going to make (don't know about the housing market where you are, but here it's really terrible).
 

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Well . . .we had kids, then had the tragic stuff happen . . so our drastic was a bit different.

Dish towels for diapers with bread wrappers for plastic pants.

Foraged for foods - morel mushrooms, dandelions, cattails, acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, wild strawberries, onions, etc.

picked up aluminum cans to sell for cash

took "navy" showers, saved the water for flushing the toliet, watering the garden.

got a wringer washer, and washed multiple loads of clothes per water tub.

picked up dropped fruits and cut around the bad spots -- then canned, dehydrated or froze them.

fished/trapped/hunted for meats -- tanned the hides and sold them.

heated the house with only wood heat. . . used NO air conditioning in summer.
 

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I think selling my house or dipping into my retirement fund would be drastic measures that I would not want to take. They would be like taking steps back. Also the cost of selling the house and relocating is pretty high and although I would free up equity I would waste money moving. Also taking out retirement funds means they would be taxed at 50% right off the top. One measure i consider pretty drastic but would consider if aI was in a really tight spot is taking in a boarder, renting rooms or turning my basement into an apartment. I would do this before selling my house.
 

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I think selling the house or getting rid of the dog would be drastic measures. Yes, dogs are expensive but I wouldn't put a price on a family pet, if you know what I mean. And if you have a house now that would accommondate a family, keep it. Have you tried budgeting your groceries, cutting off the cable and such? Also, try to lower your intrest rates on your credit cards. Good luck! :)
 

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I really dont know what to say other than listen to what the ladies above have said, they give great advice. I think first and foremost I would wait to have a baby, not sell the house because that's your cushion and just snowball debt.
 

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The house change can actually end up a financial loser if you aren't willing to commit several years to it. I'd cut back on car usage severely to save fuel and repair expenses. I've been known to spend a winter with my heat set at 55 (more fun if you have someone to snuggle with) and summer with no AC (in the desert). It is actually pretty easy to go a year without any new clothes, and most of us can eat out of our cupboards for a short while. I also think many electronics are luxuries that cost both to buy and to use, so I don't much. No cable/satellite, 1 phone, lights are on only in 1 room at a time, little TV/radio usage - and incidentally, if you use remotes - the device is using electricity waiting for you to start it unless you manually turn it off or unplug it. I also do not drink when I'm in tightwad mode - and don't do much of it anyway. Basically, look for the things you can do without, and then do without them.
 
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